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American History X - Concepts from Chapter 8

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David Rustic 11/04/04 Soc107W T/TH 8am Paper #2 Deviance/Crime Paper American History X Concepts from Chapter 8 Throughout this course we have focused on socialization and how people are shaped due to their exposure to a particular environment. When we look at instances of deviance and crimes, to understand the reason why they happen we have to look to the root of the problem, and how it came to be. American History X is a movie focusing on racism giving us a social-psychological explanation of this deviant behavior. This movie could produce a 10 page paper on deviance but I will try to concentrate on the main issues in the movie. Racism and bigotry are just a taste of the deviant behavior displayed in this movie. The setting is Venice Beach, California, in the 21st century, when the area is increasingly being "taken over" by minorities, and the crime rate is going up. Some white members of the community are beginning to notice this change for the worse and affiliate it because of the minority groups "flooding their streets in record numbers." Gangs are forming where families visited the park, legal citizens are beginning to lose their jobs to illegal immigrants, and fights and shootings are as common as birds. ...read more.


Danny was not a hard-core racist as his brother but viewed his brother as a father, and role-model. As we discover later in the movie this was because their father was murdered while in the line of duty as a firefighter. Their father was murdered by a black man, which adds significance to the deeper reasoning of Derek's involvement with the DOC and why his eyes seemed to have pleasure after murdering the black men. This is when Derek began to hate blacks and minorities. Derek was sentenced to 3 years of jail for voluntary manslaughter. This light sentence could be seen as a gift to the white man for such a harsh crime. Throughout the movie we learn of certain injustices and inequalities that forgive whites, but punish blacks and minorities. While Derek is in prison Danny's vision is beginning to resemble that of his brothers. He can see why his brother has such strong hate, and the negative effect the minorities are having on their daily lives and their community. He learns this pattern of behavior from the actions his brother spoke and displayed. Three years have past and finally Derek returns from prison; a different man than when he was admitted. ...read more.


He did not have an open opinion until the tables were turned when he was in prison. People are not born racist, or biologically predisposed to murder, but rather socialized to learn these acts as appropriate. This concept can be seen in or everyday lives as well as the movie. While in prison Danny begins to buy into racism and bigotry just as Derek did. An example of this is the paper that Danny wrote about his brother before he "unlearned" his racist behavior: "I'd never seen anyone die before. The sound of that kid's head splitting open in the curb went right through me. It stayed in my dreams for months, until slowly it changed it to something I couldn't recognize. The scary thing is it doesn't bother me anymore. For a long time I thought that night was proof that Derek was right..." Danny strongly believed that Derek's actions were justified and he chose not to testify against his brother. Derek came back from prison a changed man and convinced his brother that good and evil do not have a skin color. Derek had to explain to Danny all that which happened in the three years in prison. After realizing what he learned was wrong the Danny eventual comes to terms with racism as well condemning it. He explains it all in a few words "Hate is baggage." ...read more.

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